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Bihar election: TV channels misread early trends; NDTV issues formal apology

09-November-2015
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Bihar election: TV channels misread early trends; NDTV issues formal apology

In a first for Indian news channels, Bihar election readings saw discrepancies across TV channels.

Most news channels predicted BJP take early lead when counting of votes in the Bihar assembly polls began on Sunday morning.

The BJP was leading when postal ballots were counted first, but the situation turned 360 degrees when EVMs were opened and checked.

News channels got the trend wrong as most of them relied on a single agency for data. The agency relied on postal ballots, which tend to be skewed towards national party over regional parties.

Most channels even got their experts to analyze wrong data on live television.

NDTV was the only channel, however, that issued a formal apology for the incorrect predictions.

Here is NDTV, Chairman, Dr. Prannoy Roy's statement on the channel’s website:

“Let me start with an explanation and an apology. Now, for over more than 30 years, NDTV has tried to be the hallmark of election news and analysis.

With exit polls and opinion polls, we always made the point – even when we get it spot on – that there are statistical errors that shouldn't make them be taken too seriously. You get it right, you get it wrong sometimes – that's the life of a pollster.

This year, for example, all across the world, polls have had a very bad year. Greece – they got it wrong, United Kingdom - they got it wrong, Turkey - they've got it wrong. And in the last US presidential elections, the great Gallup Poll got it wrong.

The last time we made an error as big as this was about 32 years ago when NT Rama Rao won with a landslide. Since then we've never made such a big - we've made errors - but not as big as this one.

This time, like before, we tried our best with a large sample size and we went to every single constituency - which meant we didn't have to convert votes into seats. The sample, the poll was just taken directly. But the data from the fieldwork agency, normally a very reliable agency, was incorrect and this happens. And we are looking into why this went wrong. In any case, we take responsibility and we sincerely apologize.

Secondly, on every Counting Day, like today, all news channels get data from one agency. Again, a very globally respected agency. This morning, the first data that came in to all news channels was completely wrong. Our trend analysis was based on this data like it has been for 35 years - it's never been wrong so far.

We showed the BJP ahead - that's what the data showed. The data, unfortunately, turned out to be incorrect. All news channels had to change their data half-way. Now, this has never happened before. And we've asked the agency for an explanation and we've heard from them that they are going to write and explain what went wrong once they look into the errors.

So we apologize to you, our viewers, for the confusion that was caused. For NDTV, and for me, our aim is always to try to bring you the most objective and accurate news as quickly as possible. So, thank you for trusting us and staying with us.”

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